I haven’t written another post about The Cupping Room since my first visit when it opened in 2013. I’ve been back several more times now, so this is a compilation of some of these visits (and of the photos I could dig up). The ‘Eat All Day’ menu has its perks meaning you can eat breakfast later in the day or start off with a burger if you wish! I noticed that the drinks menu has been updated and now includes Mork hot chocolate. I ordered the Mork 70% cacao mocha (splashing out $5 for the mug otherwise it’s $4 for a cup). It was slightly bitter due to the high cacao content, but still creamy, sweet and chocolatey. Yum!
The Spanish Mess ($17) consisted of Rodriguez chorizo, potato gems, a fried egg, charred corn, peppers, heirloom tomato salsa, coriander and chipotle aioli. This was a feast for the senses – it looked and smelled great! There was plenty of chorizo cut into large chunks and charred. A wedge of lime juice sprinkled over the top helps to cut through all the meatiness. I expected the potato gems to be small deep fried parcels of fluffy potato, but these were just small chunks of roasted potato. Luckily for me there was only one pepper in the whole dish. I cut a tiny bit off the end to try which set my mouth on fire, so I’m glad I didn’t have much more than that. I was grateful for the fresh tomato and coriander to balance out the dish. There’s also plenty of chipotle aioli adding more flavour and ensuring the dish doesn’t become too dry. Overall, I enjoyed this dish. Very filling too.
Apart from coffee, The Cupping Room do a range of shakes and juices. My partner J ordered the jam doughnut ($7) which is quite unlike him (he doesn’t tend to choose the sweet stuff). This is pretty much a very sweet strawberry milkshake with a doughnut on top. There is no way I could have finished that – much too sweet for me. I chose the strawberry, apple, basil and lime juice ($7) instead since I was having a sweet breakfast.
I chose one of the specials of the day – the ricotta hotcakes with fresh plums, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, creme fraiche and lavendar honeycomb ($18). How good does it look? I loved the fresh seasonal fruit on top which made the dish just a little bit healthier. The dish actually wasn’t sweet even though it does look it. Rather it was the opposite – the creme fraiche was sour, and the raspberries, blackberries and pomegranate were also sour. The crunchy honeycomb on top were a good addition and really the only sweet element in this dish. Although I appreciated the healthier spin on hotcakes, there wasn’t enough sweetness for me and I didn’t finish it all. Give me maple syrup any day.
J ordered the ham hock fritters ($17) made from ham hock, corn and potato, with two poached eggs, ‘cuppers hot sauce’ and a cress and alfalfa salad. The eggs were perfectly poached but he was disappointed with the ‘hot sauce’ which wasn’t hot enough. He mentioned the fritters themselves were average and not overly impressive.
Another time during a day off, I headed in for breakfast and tried one of the specials. The brioche French toast with maple caramel, lemon curd, meringue, strawberries and house made sherbert ($16). This was deliciously sweet drizzled with maple caramel, but nicely offset by the lemon curd. I think this became a part of last year’s Spring menu due to its popularity so I hope they bring it back later this year.
More recently, some friends and I booked into The Cupping Room’s free cupping session to learn a bit more about coffee. We decided we might as well have lunch there beforehand. It was one of those windy chilly Canberra days and the wait for a table for 5 was about 20 minutes. I’m glad there are outdoor blinds to protect diners eating outside from most of the chill. We luckily scored a table inside. I could feel the onset of a cold/sore throat coming so I ordered the pear, apple, ginger and mint juice ($7) to increase my fluids. I noticed the strawberry, apple, basil and lime juice is no longer on the menu, but I guess this is because strawberries are no longer in season. Another friend ordered a large flat white that came in a mug.
I always seem to order from the specials menu because there’s always something enticing that stands out for me. This visit was no different. The Cuppers Noodle Soup ($21) was exactly what I was in the mood for that chilly day. This consisted of Korean noodle soup with crispy pork belly, soy braised egg, chilli, zucchini, carrot, shallots and katsobushi (dried smoked tuna shavings on top). It came out on a wooden board with the hot soup in a separate small jug. I can’t deny..it looked fantastic.
There’s a bit of yolk porn of the soft boiled egg (below) after pouring in the soup and splitting the egg in half. That soup was very hot and just covered the vermicelli noodles. I was looking forward to trying the soy braised egg. My mum makes soy braised eggs all the time and it’s great with congee, noodles and soups as it gives a bit of saltiness in your dish from this small protein hit. I love that The Cupping Room’s version provides a slightly runny yolk (hence the yolk porn) but not completely runny. My mum cooked the eggs until the yolk was completely solid but I like the slightly runny version (sorry mum). I left aside the fat from the pork belly to enjoy the chunky slices of pork meat. It seemed like it had been chargrilled or similar and I could taste some caramelisation on the outside. The results were crispy charred pork meat on the outside but tender succulent meat on the inside. Best of all, it was also slightly salty. Both egg and pork belly are offset by a savoury light broth and freshly grated zucchini and carrots. You can’t forget spring onion in an Asian noodle soup adding a mild bitey onion flavour to the dish. A wonderful dish and enough to satiate my hunger (though I could have had more). I asked our waitress if they could put it on the regular menu, that’s how much I liked it!
After lunch, we headed over to the counter where the cupping session was being set up. What is a cupping session? The Cupping Room’s website gives a good explanation:
Cupping is the process coffee roasters and growers use to judge coffees next to each other without bias.
Cups filled with coffee powder are lined up against numbers ready to commence the cupping session. There are spoons in a cup filled with water for tastings and to wash out the coffee remaining on the spoon. Disposable cups are provided to spit out the coffee after tasting (if you want to spit it out). Very much like wine tasting. Each cup is passed around our group to smell the aromas of the different coffees sourced from around the world.
Our Cupping Session barista pours hot water (set at a particular temperature) into the cups for (I think) 2 minutes. He sets a timer on his phone before he ‘breaks the crust’ – the crust being the very top layer where the grounds have floated to the top.
We are encouraged to literally slurp the coffee and move it around our mouth. This ensures the coffee covers the entire palate evenly resulting in a better taste of the coffee. Sipping the coffee produces a different more subdued taste. Did you know that there are differences to the flavour profiles of coffee as it cools down in temperature? The sweetness of honey-based coffees and fruity coffees became more prominent. We learnt that through cupping, you can taste any taints or defects with the beans. This can be caused by overexposure to certain elements, over-fermenting, uneven drying during processing etc. Our barista was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the coffee served. A very interesting whole new world to me.
Cupping sessions are free and are held every Wednesday and Sunday from about 2.30pm, please note bookings are essential. A range of coffee beans can be bought in house for you at-home baristas.
The Cupping Room was established by Ona Coffee, ‘…a team of people in love with coffee’. Through Project Origin, collaborations with coffee farmers from around the world are taking place to produce new and innovative coffee beans. I’ve lost count of all the countries the beans are sourced from. In case you missed it, the founder of Ona Coffee, Sasa Sestic, won the 2015 World Barista Championship for his coffee! That’s right – you can get the best cup of coffee right here in Canberra.
The Cupping Room is one of my favourite breakfast destinations in Canberra. The menu changes seasonally and there are always new specials that seem to change every weekend to try. Dietary requirements are catered for those with gluten intolerances (Deeks gluten free bread available) and vegetarians. Staff at The Cupping Room are clearly passionate about coffee and are keen to share this passion with diners. I’m looking forward to going back.
Value for money 10/10
FPJ score 28/30
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